Long before Europeans arrived in the Southwest, this was undisputedly Mescalero Apache territory. The Mescalero were essentially nomadic hunters and warriors. The Mescalero roamed freely throughout Texas, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora, México. Apache raiders were known to be expert guerrilla fighters who defended their homelands and brought terror to Spanish, Mexican and American settlers. As the American frontier spread west, the U.S. government established a system of forts to protect settlers, including Fort Stanton (1855).
The present reservation was established in 1873. The 463,000-acre reservation lies on the eastern flank of the Sacramento Mountains and borders the Lincoln National Forest. Tribal artifacts and historical information are on display near the tribal headquarters in the community of Mescalero.
The Mescalero Apache Tribe owns and operates both Ski Apache Ski Resort and the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino as well as other Reservation-based enterprises. The 273-room Inn of the Mountain Gods, the areas only full-service resort hotel, offers live music, horseback riding, golf, big game hunting, fishing and kayak rentals. The Inn’s 38,000 square-foot casino features the only Las Vegas-style gaming in Southern New Mexico. Ski Apache is the southern-most ski area in the United States and features the Apache Arrow high-speed gondola and dozens of trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. During the summer, Ski Apache starts a new season and opens up the gondola for rides to the summit of Sierra Blanca and offers mountain bike rentals and a disc golf course.
Over the 4th of July weekend, the Mescalero hold their annual Ceremonial Dances and Rodeo, a rare opportunity to witness the coming of age ceremony of Mescalero Apache maidens. Dancers from Native American tribes from throughout the Southwest also perform at this event.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Mescalero Apache Cultural Center and Museum during your visit. The museum of the Apache people offers vivid pictures of the Mescalero, Chiricahua, and Lipan Apache People. You will see ancient stone Apache Tools, Weapons, Clothing, and a great collection of beautiful baskets.
The St. Joseph's Apache Mission, a National Historic Landmark, began construction in 1920. All of the material used in the building of the church came from local sources. A 14-year renovation project was recently completed that restored the mission to its original beauty.
The Mescalero Apache Tribe holds elections for the office of the president every two years. The eight Tribal Council members also are elected for two years. An election for the Council is held every year when one-half of the members are up for reelection. The current President of the Mescalero Tribe is Danny H. Breuninger Sr., who took office in January 2014.
For more information on the Mescalero please see this excellent brochure on the Mescalero Apache compiled by the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino.